Urban Hiking: Cole Bay Dazzles as Vegetation Fights Back

We had an incredible time in St Barths today, riding the ferry and exploring the island. So many great photos, so many irreplaceable memories, but I’ll need a minute to organize my thoughts and photos.

Back to the other day in St. Maarten: Armed with a map meant more as a marketing tool than a navigation device, I drove west from the happy hour haven that is Maho Bay. My plan was to make a casual loop around the island, get the lay of the land.

Cole Bay.

I stopped in Marigot (photos to come) and ate breakfast by the harbor. I was awfully hungover that morning, but the smell of fresh fruit helped to awaken my senses. I sat on a rock and ate, looking out over the water at the sailboats moored in the bay.

There was a woman on a catamaran extending a clothesline across the hull of the craft, and I watched her shake out the linens and hang up the shirts.

What a dream, I thought, traveling that way. Pull into any port in the world and settle in for as long as you want – no reservations, no deadlines. I raised my glass to her as she pinned up a pair of pants, but she did not see me.

My stomach no longer stomping its feet, I left Marigot and promptly got about as “lost” as you can on a 54-square-mile island. There are so many roundabouts here, and unless you’re paying close attention it is extremely easy to wander in a direction different than what you intended. Obviously, my travel style is not exactly rigid, and I was easily coaxed by the temptations filling my windshield.

I thought it would be so straightforward – just drive up the coast man – yet I burst into laughter when I saw a sign welcoming me to Phillipsburg. Let me show you the map:

Notice Maho Bay on the west side, Marigot north of that, and Phillipsburg to the east. How I managed that, I have no idea.

Yikes – story on Phillipsburg to come – I made the best of it.

Before I realized I was lost, I did find an incredible hike – it was essentially urban hiking. I parked at the bottom of the road just outside of Cole Bay (see map above) and rocked the Camelback over concrete, eventually climbing up an extremely sketchy cliffside, navigating through cacti and trees armed with thorns (see video of the climb here).

As I mentioned my forearms are scratched beyond belief, yet I still feel like the luckiest guy in the world after being treated to these views. I probably should have realized that Cole Bay is by no means north of Marigot or in the direction I wanted to go, yet I think it’s safe to say it all turned out all right:

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